- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Tenn. (AP) - Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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May 5

Chattanooga Times Free press on the state’s upcoming Republican primary for governor:

With three months to go before Tennessee’s Republican primary for governor, none of the big four candidates seems ready to throw in the towel.



If the well-financed quartet of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee hang in until Aug. 2 in the hopes of replacing term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, the eventual winner may have as little as 25 percent of the vote before taking on the Democrat primary winner - who will have had to spend considerably less time and money - in November.

This scenario reminds us of the 1974 Tennessee Democratic primary for governor when seven candidates of considerable name recognition vied for an open seat.They were seeking to succeed Winfield Dunn, the first Republican to be elected the state’s governor in 50 years.

But while the GOP had been emerging in the state, 1974 looked to be a Democratic year. Despite his claims that he was “not a crook,” the president of the United States, Richard Nixon, appeared to be more and more caught up in a scandal that covered up a 1972 break-in by campaign operatives at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

Tennessee Democratic primary voters ultimately would make their selection on Aug. 1 as the noose tightened on the president, who would resign eight days later.

Each of the Democrats felt he had just enough of a constituency to put him over the top. The competitors were Ross Bass, a former U.S. congressman and U.S. senator; Ray Blanton, a former West Tennessee congressman who had been the party’s losing candidate for U.S. Senate in 1972; Jake Butcher, a millionaire Knoxville banker; Hudley Crockett, who had been a news anchor, former press secretary to Gov. Buford Ellington and runner-up in the 1970 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate; Franklin Haney, a millionaire Chattanooga businessman; Stan Snodgrass, a former state senator and the second-place finisher in the 1970 Democratic primary for governor; and Tom Wiseman, a former state House member and state treasurer.

The New York Times, in handicapping the race just over a week before the primary, said the state didn’t fit the “formula for Democratic recovery in the New South,” where a “new face” candidate with access to new money could “tip over the old-machine Democrat with a television blitz or some other media gimmick in the party primary.” That candidate then could “ease to election - especially if the Republicans oblige by nominating a militant conservative - with a campaign of friendly, usually pale, progressivism.”

The newspaper noted that between 40 and 65 percent of the primary vote was still undecided, and that 25 percent of the vote would probably win. The state labor federation had said it wasn’t endorsing a candidate, and the influential Nashville Tennessean newspaper hadn’t endorsed anyone.

The Times said Blanton, the former congressman from rural West Tennessee, had a lead in the contest but the two young millionaires, Butcher, 38, and Haney, 34, were making the “‘new-face’ phenomenon an issue in itself.” Both had hired nationally known professionals to make strategic media buys.

In the end, Blanton’s rural West Tennessee strength was enough to overcome the millionaires, who split East Tennessee, and Wiseman and Crockett, both of whom had pockets of support in Middle Tennessee. Snodgrass and Bass proved to be also-rans, and two other candidates, David Pack and James Powers, actually won three counties between them.

Blanton, who would go on to defeat Republican Lamar Alexander in the Watergate-tainted November general election, captured the primary with only 22.73 percent of the vote.

In 2018, Republicans do not have a West Tennessee candidate, as Dunn (from Memphis) was for them in 1970 and Blanton was for Democrats in 1974. Black, Harwell and Lee are from the Nashville region, and Boyd is from Knoxville.

And while rural West Tennessee will be a critical area this year, so will Southeast Tennessee. All four candidates deemed it important enough to attend the Hamilton County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner last week, and Lee even returned for the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday.

To achieve maximum exposure in those regions of the state, at least three of the four have passed or roughly equaled U.S. Sen Bob Corker’s old state record for self-financing in a state campaign, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosures. The former Chattanooga mayor loaned his campaign $4.1 million for his first senatorial run in 2006, but campaign finance records show Boyd already has put in $6.1 million, Lee about $5.3 million and Black around $4.1 million.

That’s a far cry from the nearly $1 million of his own money Haney was said to be prepared to spend on his campaign 44 years ago.

We hope the eventual winner - whatever his or her winning percentage may be - will have the immediate backing of the other three candidates and will run a campaign in the fall that reminds voters how much has been achieved over the last eight years under Haslam but also what more can be done.

Online: http://www.timesfreepress.com/

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May 7

The Daily Times of Maryville says Gov. Bill Haslam’s rationale for vetoing Cancer Patient Choice Act is unconvincing:

People probably didn’t pay much attention to Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of Senate Bill 367, the “Cancer Patient Choice Act.”

This is only the fifth bill Haslam has vetoed since he took office seven years ago. Those higher-profile vetoes were the sort that tend to get more buzz: the Bible, animal abuse, flash mobs and gay students on campus legislation all earned the governor’s veto.

Then there’s Thursday’s veto No. 5. The Cancer Patient Choice Act is about insurance, a conversation that causes peoples’ eyes to glaze over - until they need it to get well. As The Associated Press reported, the legislation would have required state employee insurance to cover proton therapy, an alternative for certain cancers.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat cancer. The timing and dosage can be controlled so that the maximum amount of energy is deposited directly into the tumor, limiting damage to nearby healthy tissue. That’s especially important when treating cancers of the brain, breast, lung and neck, among others.

Knoxville-based Provision Healthcare is a provider of proton therapy. In February, it successfully treated the first patients with the newly developed ProNova SC360 proton therapy system. The equipment came from ProNova’s facility at the Pellissippi Place R&D; park in Alcoa. Scientists who developed the state-of-the-art equipment earned their scientific chops in Oak Ridge laboratories, where they developed superconducting magnet technology. They say they’ve demonstrated their SC360 is cost effective, energy efficient, smaller and lighter, while improving productivity.

While the Cancer Patient Choice veto might not have generated a vibe like other vetoes, that doesn’t mean it went unnoticed in places like Silicon Valley in California, the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Silicon Hills in Texas.

Researchers are interested in places where high-tech has a fertile climate to grow. When the governor of Tennessee, a state with a reputation for electing pragmatic leaders at the top of government, blocks a bill that would keep health care choices on the cutting edge, people wonder why.

Newspapers from Florida to Washington State picked up the AP story datelined Nashville. Decisions on alternative cancer treatment are newsworthy. When cancer strikes, people care.

Tennessee legislators took it seriously. The Senate passed the bill 29-1-1. The House vote was 85-13. The same day Haslam announced his veto, the bill’s sponsors - Sen. Mark Green and Rep. Bob Ramsey - called for a special session of the General Assembly to override it.

Green, R-Clarksville, is a physician and a cancer survivor: “Unfortunately the governor has chosen to side with the insurance companies and their vendors, ignoring what physicians and the patient have decided is best.”

Ramsey, R-Maryville, as Blount Countians know, is a dentist. He was “shocked and disappointed” the governor has opposed this and similar legislation for five years. “It is established medical fact that proton therapy saves tissue, and thus lowers radiation side effects.”

So what’s the problem? Frankly, that’s what we want to know.

The governor announced, “The state is committed to high-quality care that is medically appropriate and fiscally responsible for patients and taxpayers, but this mandate could put patients at risk and expose them to excessive charges from out-of-network providers.”

Not good enough, governor, not when patients’ lives are at stake. What’s the risk? Where’s the proof of excessive charges?

It might well be that the governor is operating from outdated information. The technology has evolved. We ask that the governor get up to speed on what’s happening in the field of proton therapy to fight cancer. If due diligence doesn’t change his mind, Haslam should lay out his rationale with evidence and reveal his sources. Patients, doctors and researchers deserve that much.

Online: https://www.thedailytimes.com

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May 9

The Morristown Citizen Tribune on unintentional environmental destruction:

The oldest known living tree in the world is a bristlecone pine in California. Scientists say it’s been growing for more than 5,000 years. That is about 200 human generations it has survived violent storms, extended dry spells and wildfires. It’s amazing to think about something living that long.

The exact location of the tree is a secret known only to a few scientific types and a few members of the U.S. Forest Service. Its location is kept secret for its protection because if the general public knew where it was it probably would not last long. For 5,000 years it has taken the worst nature could throw at it, but it wouldn’t stand a chance against human threats.

It’s possible vandals would damage or destroy the tree, since that happens too often with many things. What is more likely is it would be killed by people who had no intention of harming it. Mostly, it would be folks who wanted to slice of a tiny sliver of it for a souvenir. They are not the kind of people who would want to see the tree destroyed; they just don’t see any harm in taking a bit of it for a keepsake and something to show friends back home.

Perhaps one person taking a little chunk would not hurt the tree, but thousands of others would have the same idea. The tree could suffer the same fate as the famous Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.

Plymouth Rock is where the pilgrims landed in 1620. It’s a landmark that draws more than a million visitors a year. It is well protected now, although it was not always that way. For years visitors chipped off pieces of it to have a token of American history they could admire.

If that wasn’t bad enough, in 1774 local residents decided to move the rock from the beach to the village square. In the process of lifting it, the rock split in two. One half was left in place while the other half was broken into three parts, with one 100-pound piece serving as a doorstep for many years.

No one intended to seriously damage the historic rock; it just happened. After all, most souvenir collectors thought, one little piece of such a big rock would not be missed. As is often the case, they failed to consider how many others thought the same way.

Those are only two examples of thousands that demonstrate how unthinking people can damage the world around them. There is nothing new about it because people have always been people. No doubt, our Stone Age ancestors were the same way, destroying things without malice, only without serious thought.

Humans are destructive, sometimes willingly and more often with no intent, only a lack of thoughtfulness. The world would be a much better place if we all stopped to consider what we are doing before we collect a bit of something or simply harm it without even noticing we are. It is always good to remember if we want a souvenir of some special object, chances are many others do too. When it happens, it’s only a matter of time before the object is gone.

Let’s hope the ancient bristlecone pine can continue for at least a few more centuries without its location being revealed. If it becomes known, chances are the tree will be doomed because too many people fail to think before they act.

Online: http://www.citizentribune.com

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